"This year we feel the steep increase [in exports to Russia]. We don't say it's the pre-sanction level, but we are already on this way. We are reaching about seventy percent of the pre-sanction situation. This is not bad, considering Italy lost almost 50 percent when sanctions started … The peak situation we had many years ago when Italy's export to Russia equaled 13 billion euro. Before crisis we reached 10.7 billion of exports to Russia. This year it is forecast some 7, almost 8 billion euro of exports to Russia, we are getting back to good figures," Piccoli said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
"We are against sanctions, those who are working here cannot be not against sanctions. Instinctively, sanctions are getting in the way. Unilateral [EU] sanctions not so much, but Russia's counter-sanctions that change the increase of trade," Antonio Piccoli said on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
The Italian official added that the sanctions had significantly hit his country.
"Italy is one of the countries that lost the most with sanctions," the representative of GIM-Unimpresa added.
In 2014, the European Union imposed sanctions on Russia citing Moscow's alleged interference in the Ukrainian conflict, which has been repeatedly denied by Russian officials. In response, Russia placed restrictions on imports from the countries that imposed sanctions on it. The embargo was later prolonged as sanctions were extended.
SPIEF, held in Russia's second largest city of St. Petersburg, is a major business and economic event which will be continue through Saturday. The Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency is the official media partner of the forum.